Hey, everybody. It’s been… well, a while. I didn’t mean to sit this long, but I got a bit bogged down with other stuff, including my own writing.

Quick sporking update: unfortunately, I haven’t gotten much work done on the City of Glass sporking since the last update. However, since I recently finished work on a short story, I’m determined to spend the rest of October working on it until I’ve finished taking my notes. After I’ve recovered from that, I’ll get to putting together the actual sporking. Depending on whether or not I decide to take part in NaNaWriMo this year, I may be able to get the first entry out in December, if not earlier.

Stay tuned for further updates.

But now, let’s get to the books.

You know, when I started writing these, I intended to discuss books that were maybe a bit outside the main-stream. Books that people – including those who read sci-fi/ fantasy – might not have heard of. Books by authors who didn’t have a ton of name recognition. And looking over my reviews, I think I’ve managed to stick with that. Sure, I’ve slipped a bit now and then, but I like to think that even then I tended to go for less well-known works.

But today, I’m getting back to my roots. I’m going to tell you guys about a book that you literally cannot find in stores – Priest, by Matthew Coleville.

Blurb-ity-blurb:

For centuries the people of Ollghum Keep relied on the knights of the Green Order to protect them from the horrors of the haunted wood. Now, as before, a monstrous army marches on their small town. But this time, the Green Order is nowhere to be found.
The Bishop sends the priest Heden into the wood, to find out why. Arriving at their secret priory, Heden discovers their commander is dead, the remaining knights paralyzed with despair. They will not act, they will not tell him what happened, and with each hour the monstrous army gets closer to Ollghum Keep. Thousands will die if the priest fails.
When the knights start dying one by one, Heden must race to unravel the conspiracy of silence and save the knights from themselves so they can save the people they were sworn to guard.

Now, you may be wondering how, if this book isn’t available in actual book stores, did I manage to find out about it? Well, that’s simple – I watched Matt Coleville’s videos one Youtube.

You see, Matt Coleville is a writer at Turtle Rock Studios, the makers of games such as Left 4 Dead and Evolve. He’s also been playing D&D since 1986, which is longer than I’ve been alive. Most of his videos focus on playing D&D, specifically advice for new and aspiring DMs.

But in addition to this, he’s also an independent fantasy author – no agent, no publisher, and any expenses (like editing and cover art) come out of his pocket. The down side of this is that, well, you can’t get his books in a brick-and-mortar store; the up side is that he sees a larger cut of the sales, namely in ebooks. And the money he gets from those sales goes into allowing him to make more videos, since he doesn’t monetize his D&D videos, nor does he have a Patreon.

(Also, he’s friends with Liam O’Brien and Matt Mercer of Critical Role, and even got tapped to help write the prequel comics from Dark Horse – the benefits of connections!)

Anyway, back to Priest. This is the first in Coleville’s Ratchatchers series, which so far consists of this and the sequel, Thief. Apparently, the whole series is basically one big story about putting together a team of adventurers, or “ratcatchers,” as they’re sometimes called. (That’s a trend Coleville apparently likes to use – that adventurers aren’t really liked, because they cause trouble, and will probably do anything for enough money)

The plot of this one is pretty straight-forward: Heden, a former priest and adventurer, is ordered to investigate what’s going on with a mysterious and ancient order of knights, the Green Order, and perform a ritual to redeem them. Unfortunately, the knights are less than forthcoming as to what they did, and with an army of monsters heading for the nearby city and the knights the only thing in the way, Heden has to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

The book is set in a pretty standard D&D world, as you might expect – in fact, it’s set in the same home-brew world Coleville uses for his own games. That said, don’t expect a lot of light-hearted adventure. This book is rough, and it gets ugly. The cover proclaims it’s, “a fantasy hardboiled,” and that’s pretty accurate. It’s certainly not the darkest thing I’ve read, but if you’re expecting something along the line of Tolkien, you’re out of luck.

It’s a good read, though I will admit to getting a bit frustrated at some points. There were a few points where I just wanted one of the characters to stop being so damn secretive, but since that’s how this kind of investigation would probably go in real life, I’m willing to let it slide.

There are two complaints I do have, though.

First is Heden’s magic sword, Starkiller. I understand that it’s supposed to be a powerful artifact, but the amount of destruction it can rain down (literally) makes me feel it’s a bit of a deus ex machina. Kinda makes me wonder why he’s so hesitant to use the damn thing when it would be most handy.

The second is that the story just kind of… ends. There’s no real resolution. Yes, the mystery is solved, but that happens almost literally on the last page. I knew going in that this was the first book in a series, but I didn’t think that this would basically be a prequel to the actual story.

Those point aside, the book is good. I fully intend to pick up the next book, as well as the others when they eventually come out. And the Vox Machina Origins comics, because I also like Critical Role. And the more money Coleville gets, the more writing he can do, and the more videos he can make. He gets money, and I get entertainment.

So, give Priest a shot. You’ve probably wasted $5 on worse things, and it goes to supporting an awesome and nerdy guy do awesome and nerdy things.

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Comment

  1. Juracan on 8 October 2017, 14:34 said:

    When I first saw the title my first thought was, “The Korean comic book about the immortal priest?” Clearly not what you’re talking about though.

    I like how you’ve often focused on books that are less well-known than others, I think this one sort of takes the cake in that category by being something, as you pointed out, cannot be found in stores. I’m always looking for new books a bit off the beaten track,so I might take a gander and try out Priest.

    Good luck with the sporking, friend!